In Fernando de Noronha, entry to paradise has a price tag. Actually, two. To visit the most beautiful archipelago of Brazil’s coast, in addition to air tickets, accommodation, and sightseeing, there are two fees.
Owned by the state of Pernambuco, the group of 21 islands is located 545 km away from the capital, Recife – and the Pernambuco governor assigns a general-administrator for this State district, the only one in Brazil. In 1986, the site was declared an Environmental Protection Area, two years after building the Marine National Park, which covers two third of the largest islands and all small islands. Ultimately, in 2001, Unesco listed it a world heritage site.
A little over 3 thousand people reside there, and their main business is mostly tourism-related. Due to environmental protections, activities such as fishing or extractivism are forbidden, and only 30% of the main island are allowed for housing.
Thus, the archipelago management is shared by two entities: the federal government is in charge of the National Park, through ICMBio [Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation], and the Pernambuco government is in charge of the habitable zone. That is why there are two fees, with different purposes.
National Park Admission Fee
Since September 2012, ICMBio charges an admission fee to visit the Fernando de Noronha National Park. Today, the rate is BRL 212 for foreigners and BRL 106 for Brazilians and is valid for 10 days – Brazilians under 11 or over 60, residents and their first- and second-degree relatives and researchers are not required to pay. Admission is individual and allows access to “all public visitable sites of the park,” like trails and beaches.
According to ICMBio, 70% of that amount are destined for Park improvements, such as signage and trail maintenance, as well as for maintenance of the local fauna and flora.
Environmental Protection Fee
The Environmental Protection Fee was created to “ ensure maintenance of environmental and ecological conditions” of the archipelago. This fee has been charged since 1989 by the Pernambuco state from all visitors “for tourism purposes” – second-degree relatives of local residents and airplane pilots, among others, are not required to pay. The individual rate is BRL 73.52 a day. For five days, that sums BRL 361.71 In a month, the debt reaches BRL 5,183.78.
According to local administration, these amounts are for island preservation, that is, infrastructure works and maintenance of public services, such as urban cleaning, waste collection, and maintenance of child care units, schools and hospitals.
Even by charging fees, the number of tourists in Fernando de Noronha is on the rise – which means a threat to nature. In 2018, it counted 103,548 visitors, a 10% increased compared to the previous year – a tourist stays, on average, 5.24 days.
What sounds like good news is also cause for concern. The National Park maintenance plan, established in 2005, limits the number of visitors to 89 thousand a year – which, according to the document, may exceed the island’s capacity. The Pernambuco government says the limit is 104 thousand people.
“The capacity study for the island infrastructure was done with data from 2004. For the last 15 years, we’ve had improvements in the island structure,” said Guilherme Rocha, the island administrator, in an interview with Brazilian newsportal G1. “Today, we can say that the island’s limit was exceeded and we need to review some concepts, so that we can go back to numbers that the island and the environment may handle,” completed Silmara Erthal, manager in charge of ICMBio.
Content published in August 16, 2019